Margaret Sanger, "Birth Control, 1946," 1947.

Published Article. Source: Britannica Book of the Year(1947), p. 128 .

For other articles in the Britannica Book of the Year series, see Birth Control, 1944; Birth Control, 1947; Birth Control, 1948, 1949;Birth Control, 1949; Birth Control, 1950; Birth Control, 1951; Birth Control, 1952; Birth Control, 1953; Birth Control, 1954; Birth Control, 1955; Birth Control, 1956; Birth Control, 1957; Birth Control, 1958

Birth Control.

The year 1946 marked the 25th anniversary of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (formerly the Birth Control Federation of America). The year was distinguished by advances in the field of religious acceptance and by international recognition of family planning as an aid in solving population problems related to world peace.


Speaking before the International Health conference of the United Nations, Dr. Djamil Pasha Tutunji, health director of Trans-Jordan, declared that birth control is as important to world peace as the control of the atom bomb.

The first postwar international sex conference, attended by representatives of eight countries, was held in Stockholm, Sweden. Delegates from the unoccupied countries, where planned parenthood programs had been curtailed but not abolished, reported development of a three-fold program of child-spacing, treatment of infertility and education for marriage, in line with work of the U.S. group. Visiting physicians from India, China, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Italy all reported growing awareness of the importance of planned parenthood in an over-all health program.


Recognizing that planned parenthood is one way to combat the country’s growing divorce, abortion and juvenile delinquency rates, the National Clergymen’s Advisory committee of the Planned Parenthood federation passed a resolution seeking the establishment of planned parenthood services in hospitals, public health clinics and other agencies where the service should be given. The resolution, signed by 3,200 Protestant and Jewish religious leaders, was given nation-wide publicity by the press. The united action of clergymen in favour of planned parenthood completed the year’s program which opened with an address by Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, president of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America, before the 25th annual dinner.

Medical and Public Health.–

The New York Academy of Medicine conducted a survey of contraceptive services in New York city hospitals and found that only 5 of the city’s 89 hospitals had contraceptive clinics. The mistaken belief that birth control is illegal was believed to keep many patients from seeking medical advice on child-spacing from out-patient departments which they attended for other medical help. The New York academy report recommended that contraceptive information be made available when it was medically indicated. The addition of Virginia and Mississippi to the states which include planned parenthood in their public health services brought the total number of such states to eight.

Press and Radio.–

Fifty-six articles making favourable mentions of planned parenthood appeared during the year in popular and technical magazines. Both the United Press and the Associated Press wire services carried the story of the clergymen’s resolution, and in many communities newspaper editors augmented the original story with statements from local clergymen whose names appeared among the 3,200 signers.

Radio’s attitude toward planned parenthood underwent a noticeable change during 1946. Bishop Oxnam’s address broadcast over the network of the Columbia Broadcasting system was the most frank discussion of the religious significance of birth control ever heard on a network. The National Broadcasting Company gave the federation network time for a roundtable discussion of “Birth–By Choice or Chance.” Participants, who discussed the religious, medical and social aspects of planned parenthood were: Dr. Guy Emery Shipler, editor of The Churchman; Dr. Janet Fowler Nelson, newly appointed consultant on education for marriage and family living, for the federation; and Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher, associate professor of obstetrics, Johns Hopkins medical school. The program was transcribed and copies made available to planned parenthood groups for rebroadcast.

The first series of planned parenthood programs was broadcast in the spring over WFAS, White Plains, N.Y. Scheduled originally as a 13-week series, it was extended to 20 weeks, and the entire series was repeated over the same station in the fall. Scripts of this series were made available to all planned-parenthood leagues and committees.


In addition to its extensive literature on child spacing, infertility, marriage counselling and population, the federation published two new pamphlets dealing with venereal disease and juvenile delinquency. The Story of Two Families, produced in co-operation with the Institute for Venereal Disease Education of North Carolina, pointed out in popular cartoon style the relationship between venereal disease and parenthood. The Roots of Delinquency stressed the fact that most juvenile delinquency began at home and was traceable in a large measure to irresponsible parents.

Fund Raising.–

Preparations were made for the first nationwide campaign for $2,000,000 to open in Feb. 1947. A portion of the money was to be used for research which it was hoped would lead to the development of a simple, inexpensive contraceptive and add to current knowledge of the treatment of infertility. The federation also hoped to expand its current program and establish new clinics which would place medically reliable methods of contraception within the reach of all married women regardless of geographical location or economic status.


The Planned Parenthood federation was the national agency and local clearinghouse for 38 state leagues and more than 200 affiliated local committees. There were in 1946 about 600 planned parenthood centres in hospitals, public health clinics and extramural clinics operated by volunteer committees.

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Copyright 2003. Margaret Sanger Project